Judges 8:21 “As is the man, so is his strength”

    Strength arises out of character.  A dictionary definition of character is: “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.”   People are complex, imperfect and therefore flawed.  No one is pure and no one has perfect strength.  The Old Testament is full of  people with complex characters that determined their strength.  In Gideon’s case (this scripture  was directed at him) he was sometimes fearful, sometimes brave, sometimes prideful, sometimes humble.  Yet God worked through Gideon’s flawed strength to deliver Israel from oppression.  It is not a man’s strength that makes the victory rather it is God’s spirit. ” ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zec 4:6)
     The human condition hasn’t changed since Old Testament times.  We are still flawed, still prone to character defects, still prone to failure and we suffer for it.  What has changed since the Old Testament times is that we are not doomed by our failure!  This change is God’s doing.   Jesus said; “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29,30)   If you can find the strength to pick up His yoke He will work a change in your character while giving you rest.  Out of that rest comes a renewed, transformed strength.  You no longer have to exhaust yourself trying to be perfect, trying to be strong, trying to be right all the time!
     How does this happen?   The apostle Paul tells us; “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)  As we learn from Jesus by being open to His Word, we are transformed in our minds.  Out of this process our strength isn’t conformed to what this world passes off as strength.  Our strength takes on a purity and perfection that enables us to deal with this world’s troubles with joy, hope and peace.  ”These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)
     I  work with drug addicts who are in recovery.  Many, many times as they struggle with their addiction which they are powerless over, these men overcome by having the strength to take Jesus’ yoke upon them.  Their banner of sobriety becomes; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)